Rafael’s NLOS missile successfully tested in the South China Sea

The defense sector in the Philippines has recently confirmed the Philippine Navy’s successful live-fire test of NLOS spike missiles directed at short-range naval targets, as reported by various local media outlets.  

Rafael's NLOS missile successfully tested in the South China Sea
Photo credit: Facebook

According to Maxdefense, a reputable Philippine website, these tests were conducted under an extensive contract designed to supply eight Shelagh MK5 high-speed patrol boats, a product of Israel Shipyards. The procurement agreement, whose estimated cost is around the substantial figure of $128 million, had these demonstrations taken place west of Luzon Point, Mariveles, off the coasts of the Bataan Peninsula, with a clear outlook on the South China Sea.  

Emerging alongside the main vessel contract is a supplementary agreement regarding the supply of Typhoon and Mini Typhoon remote-controlled gun emplacements for the fleet of 8 ships. Additionally, it includes both Spike NLOS missile systems and Typhoon-MLS NLOS missiles for 4 of these vessels; all precision weaponry is manufactured by Rafael. This additional deal carries a hefty price tag, clocking in at roughly $80 million.

Rafael's NLOS missile successfully tested in the South China Sea
Photo credit: Rafael

NLOS Spike data

The Israeli naval Non-Line-of-Sight [NLOS] Spike missile is a multi-purpose, precision-guided missile system developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. It’s a member of the Israeli Spike family of missiles, which are known for their precision strike capabilities. 

The NLOS Spike missile is compact in size, with a length of approximately 4.26 feet [1.3 meters], a diameter of 6.3 inches [160mm], and a weight of around 154 pounds [70 kg]. This compact size allows for multiple missiles to be carried on a single platform, thereby increasing the firepower of the deploying unit. 

The missile is equipped with an advanced electro-optical seeker, which includes both a charge-coupled device [CCD] and an infrared [IR] sensor. This allows the missile to effectively engage targets in any weather conditions, day or night. The NLOS Spike missile also features a two-way data link, allowing the operator to update the target or switch to a different target mid-flight.

NLOS Spike operational range and warhead

The operational range of the NLOS Spike missile is one of its most impressive features. It can engage targets at distances of up to 15.5 miles [25 kilometers], making it a truly long-range weapon. This range capability allows the missile to engage targets beyond the line of sight, hence the name Non-Line-of-Sight [NLOS]. 

The warhead of the NLOS Spike missile is another key aspect of its capabilities. It carries a tandem-charge High Explosive Anti-Tank [HEAT] warhead, designed to defeat modern armored vehicles, including those equipped with reactive armor. The missile also can switch to a different mode for dealing with buildings or fortifications, using a blast-fragmentation effect.

Who fired the NLOS Spike?

Philippine sources reported that the missile was launched from one of the Acero-class Fast Attack Interdiction Crafts [FAIC]. These vessels have a full load displacement of around 70 tons, substantially lighter in comparison to larger naval ships. 

The propulsion system of the Acero-class craft uniquely combines water jets and diesel engines. They are specifically powered by dual Caterpillar C32 ACERT diesel engines, each packing a potent 1,600 horsepower. These engines drive a set of HamiltonJet HM461 water jets, propelling the craft to maximum velocities of up to 45 knots. The water jet propulsion system offers the added advantage of improved maneuverability, especially in shallow water regions. 

Rafael's NLOS missile successfully tested in the South China Sea
Photo credit: Philippine Navy

When it comes to armament, the Acero-class crafts are adequately equipped to tackle a range of threats. They boast a 20mm Oerlikon gun, a pair of .50 caliber machine guns, and two 7.62mm machine guns. These crafts also can holster anti-ship missiles. The operational range of the Acero-class Fast Attack Interdiction Crafts is another noteworthy aspect of their design. These vessels can make voyages of approximately 600 nautical miles at a cruising speed of 12 knots.

NLOS Spike’s operators

Several navies around the world are equipped with the Israeli NLOS Spike missile. Apart from the Philippines, the Israeli Navy is the primary operator of the NLOS Spike missile system, as it is a product of Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. This missile system plays a crucial role in the Israeli Navy’s defense strategy. 

The Republic of Singapore Navy also features the NLOS Spike missile system. Singapore is known for incorporating advanced missile systems into its navy, and the NLOS Spike is no exception. 

The South Korean Navy is another force that utilizes the NLOS Spike missile system. South Korea is constantly modernizing its naval force, and the integration of the NLOS Spike missile system forms part of this ongoing process. The Colombian Navy has also included the NLOS Spike missile system in its arsenal, aligning with Colombia’s efforts to bolster its naval capabilities.

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